Sunday, 30 November 2014

Collaboration, LLC: Tesla May Tap BMW For Carbon Fiber, Exchange Battery Tech

2014 BMW 328d, i8, ActiveHybrid 3
Through cynical eyes, BMW’s i division is a hyper-costly experiment that hedges against strict emission laws, all so Munich can keep building cars that actually make a profit. While this is true, there are many tangible benefits to BMW’s advanced carbon fiber manufacturing—such as driving down the material’s cost and getting ahead of competitors—and now it has even drawn the praise of one Elon Musk. Yep, forget the diesel and hybrid Bimmers that sell for normal-ish money—Tesla CEO Musk is turned on by the i lineup’s exotic construction.
According to a Der Spiegel interview translated by Reuters, Musk has been chatting with BMW executives about a possible collaboration that would include the sharing of lightweight parts and batteries. Musk says he wants to open a battery plant in Germany within the next five to six years—his “Gigafactory” in Reno, Nevada will be online in 2017—and that the carbon fiber parts on the i3 and i8 were “relatively cost-efficient.” Tesla itself has not confirmed any deal with BMW, only that a “casual conversation” between a self-made billionaire and some German engineers did in fact happen.
2014 BMW 328d, i8, ActiveHybrid 3
As things sit, both companies are all-in on electrification and already have alliances at play. BMW is working with Audi and other researchers to develop carbon fiber that’s 90-percent cheaper as it triples material production to 9000 tons a year. It’s also tagging along with Mercedes to standardize wireless charging and recently signed a deal with Toyota to create more efficient lithium-air batteries (in addition to jointly-building a new sports car and advancing Musk’s favorite brand of haterade,hydrogen fuel).

5 things to learn the driving 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S

After what felt like six or so years of whispers, rumors, secret meetings, spy shots, and then minor internet implosion over the official pictures, I spent an afternoon driving Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, plus some of the curvier roads around the area, in the car that everyone—pretty much Mercedes-AMG included—is calling a 911-fighter. Bold claim; pretty car. Actually, let's get that out of the way first: the car is GORGEOUS. Stunning. The first time you see one in the metal, it takes a second to realize you're doing the slack-jawed yokel thing. I'm doing it now, just remembering the car. Okay, let's move on.
1.It's faster than it feels:Credit the extremely stiff aluminum spaceframe chassis, the low center of gravity (thanks, in part, to the dry-sump lubrication system, which allowed them to forego a conventional oil pan and drop engine placement an additional 2 inches), dynamic engine and transmission mounts, and the 47-53 front-to-rear weight distribution this car is nigh unshakeable at speed. You just don't expect this level of composure from a long, low-slung rear-drive two-seater with a not-insignificant overhang, but then you glance down as you crest the hump on the front straight at Laguna and realize you're inching past 120 mph and the car is just ... fine. Totally normal, completely settled, nothing to see here, let's try for 125, shall we chum? It's definitely a car that opens up the more you push it and that inspires confidence to push it even more on the next lap.
2.They weren't kidding with the "handcrafted by racers" tagline:Sure, it's marketing fluff, but there's some truth there, too. The carbon fiber driveshaft weighs under 9 lbs and is used in Mercedes touring race cars, and the cylinder liners feature a proprietary material called Nanoslide essentially, they're twice as hard as conventional grey cast-iron liners, reduce friction, and are very durable which was also used in Mercedes Formula 1 engines during the 2014 season. There's lots of cool little problem-solving or make-better bits the more you look.
3.The key word is "Precision":It's a word you hear a lot from the AMG folks when talking about this car, in reference to everything from the variable-rate hydraulic rack steering to the throttle response afforded by the hot-inside V setup (meaning the two turbochargers are mounted internally), to the double wishbone suspension. And the GT S lays a claim to that word: the steering is indeed excellent—you can put that long nose wherever you want it (provided you can see where you're going, which is an issue at times thanks to the length and a decently sized A-pillar); pull is immediate and ferocious—and mostly lag-less—throughout the rev range; and the suspension is wonderfully agile and responsive, thanks in part to the use of forged aluminum for the wishbones, wheel mounts, and steering knuckles. Even over heavy curbing through the Corkscew it's very difficult to upset this car.
4.They're going to iterate the hell out of this car:Talking with AMG CEO Tobias Moers about the modern demand for a sports car that's also an uncompromised luxury car, and the concessions that requires from a track-obsessed engineering side, Moers said: "It's just our entrance, the GT, into this segment; and you can do variants that are more compromising maybe, to comfort, better for the race track," at which point his media handler started twitching and and huffing and giving him the stink-eye and he laughed and stopped talking. Damn that handler. Three hours later during a press conference, Moers announced "a GT3 racing version is already a done deal." So, already we have the GT, the GT S (launching first), racing and road-going versions of a GT3 car, and the inevitable Black Series and this is just what we know of within a week of the car's launch.
5.It's not a 911. That's not a bad thing:AMG is doing everything but openly calling out Porsche, but it's a mistake to think they're trying to make a better version of the 911. What they're doing with the GT and GT S is providing an alternative to the idea of the 911. The GT S at times feels larger, more unwieldy, and yes, less composed than some of the more focused 911 variants, but the car provides a singular experience. It truly is stunning in the metal, one of those cars you'll find yourself visiting in the garage at three in the morning. Add in a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that plays a constant symphony of roars and growls and other wonderful noises, plus the fact that it's properly quick around a racetrack—if only for some semblance of bragging rights, because I don't think anyone expects customers to track these cars—and you know they're going to sell every one they make.

First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry

The first thing you should know about the 2015 Toyota Camry is that nothing I'm going to say will make a shred of difference to the potential Camry consumer, an obstinate breed that clutches a well-worn copy of Consumer Reports like a bastard sword as they steel themselves for battle with Toyota's formidable salespeople. Whatever Camry is newest is likely what a loyalist will buy, satisfying a basic and primal need for bland competence.
Bland competence? Well, the 2015 Camry has more of that! Way more than the last one! Don't remember the last one? I agree that it's hard to visualize negative space, so never mind—just trust me. After all, the most interesting thing I can recall about the old model is the hybrid job that Web Editor Zach Bowman was driving when its fascia was rearranged by a wayward Blazer.
It's been just two years since the new-model Camry debuted, and that's usually prime time for the traditional mid-cycle refresh involving a new front end treatment and some new tech bobbles. Toyota has instead dropped gobs of money to rework the look and feel. Instead of simply a new fascia and wheels, all external panels except for the roof are new. The bones underneath? Not so much. If you remember the "new" 2014 Corolla that debuted last year, it's pretty much the same proposition. The upshot is that the formula seems to work for Toyota, which trusts that its buyers will see the value in using older hardware as long as the stuff the driver can see (without popping the hood or peering underneath) looks new.

Vaughn Gittin, Jr. unveils 2015 Mustang RTR

Pro drifter Vaughn Gittin, Jr. is finally ready to drop his racy new Mustang RTR. The car will debut at SEMA and be available via select Ford dealers, and it looks the business. Frankly, the 2015 Mustang's biggest issue is that, if anything, it doesn't look mean enough. Problem solved! The RTR gets new spoilers, splitters, a pretty wicked-looking diffuser, new grilles—with illumination in the top one, making up for the sadly departed driving lamps, and the best-looking wheels I've seen for that car, period. 
All the appearance stuff is for the Spec 1 cars, which leave out performance mods. The Spec 2 adds an RTR-specific tune, Magnaflows (again, RTR-specific), revised suspension, a cold-air kit, and an optional blower. Also making its way to SEMA, but not yet revealed, is an even more extreme RTR Spec 5 concept, which takes the formula even further. Stay tuned. 
Ford’s Mustang team has done an incredible job with the new 2015 Ford Mustang,” says Vaughn. “The RTR team and I are pumped to work with such an incredible platform for RTR builds. Without a question, the performance and overall presence of the new Mustang RTR will impress and keep a smile on our customers’ faces whether cruising the streets or getting crazy on the track. I cannot take delivery of mine soon enough!”
Being a relatively new upstart in the aftermarket tuner build business, RTR is still only available at a limited number of Ford dealerships. The brand however is working at expanding their reach as the 2015 RTR Mustang is coming to market.
“For the past couple years we have really focused on building relationships with the best dealers out there,” says Vaughn. “The dealers we have partnered with so far have been very happy with the RTR program we offer and the overall reception Mustang RTR’s receive in their dealerships. Excitement is very high around this next generation Ford Mustang.”

The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is absurdly fast and absurdly cheap

Let's review a few things: At $54,995 and 455 hp, the current, seventh-generation Corvette is a monster, a practical and almost flaw-free device. Similarly, as the media is fond of telling you, we live in a golden age; if you're building fast cars, you have to offer at least 500 hp if you want any attention. The last top-line Ford Mustang made 662 hp and-this is not an exaggeration-thanks to 200-mph gearing, occasionally felt half-asleep. Dodge builds a family sedan with 707 hp. When it comes to horsepower, the industry is generally agreed to have a last-days-of-Rome going on, and yet the numbers keep reaching for the moon.
Into this bat-guano party steps the 2015 Corvette Z06. It makes 650 hp and costs $78,995, which makes it both absurdly fast and remarkably cheap. Its supercharged, 6.2-liter, direct-injected pushrod V8, which GM calls LT4, produces 12 hp more than the LS9 V8 in the old Corvette ZR1, which was also supercharged.
Like that car, the Z06 offers standard magnetorheological dampers and select carbon-fiber body panels; unlike that car, it has electric power steering, a seven-speed manual, an optional eight-speed automatic, and an electronically controlled, variable-lockup limited-slip. Plus a removable roof panel and an available convertible model. The coupe weighs 3536 pounds. Thanks to the base C7's aluminum frame-20 percent more rigid than that of the previous Z06-Chevrolet says the convertible needs no additional structural reinforcements, weighs within 60 pounds of the coupe, and is tuned identically to it. On either car, if you choose the carbon aerodynamics package, you get a carbon-fiber front splitter, carbon rocker extensions, a larger spoiler, and small nose winglets.
If you are the sort of person who sits up nights figuring out how to fit slicks and a straight pipe to his dishwasher, the track-focused Z07 package ($7995) is built for your weirdo brain. It brings the carbon pack plus the carbon brakes; Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires; a 59-millimeter, clear-plastic Gurney flap on the trunk; and larger winglets.
There's more here than just a bonkers engine. Because the Z06's rear fenders are more than three inches wider than those of the base C7, the taillights are three inches farther apart, to keep the newly enplumped rump from looking cross-eyed. The grille is so effective at humping air into the engine bay that Chevrolet says the engine actually sees less air volume with the grille removed. Scoops on the rear-fender vents force 50 percent more air to the newly enlarged transaxle coolers. And while the Z07's clear Gurney "looks a little NASCAR," as one engineer told me, it also causes air to bunch up over the rear glass, providing 80 percent of the Z07's total downforce with a center of pressure just in front of the rear wheels. (Fun fact: GM considered a traditional rear wing mounted directly to the rear fascia, but that would've required reinforcing the fascia to take the load, which would've added cost.
It also would've shifted the aero balance rearward, requiring more front downforce for balance. The Gurney simply produces pressure on the middle of the car, and with a relatively small drag penalty.)

Winter tire myths busted with a Focus ST on track

Hang out with SCCA autocrossers or road racers long enough and you’ll hear the phrase “no-season tires” pop up. They’re talking about what the rest of the world calls “all-season tires,” but anybody with nontrivial experience on a racetrack or cone course knows that even the newest generation of year-rounders can’t cut the mustard at speed, or in the snow. If you’re driving a modern performance car and you don’t have dedicated summer performance tires strapped to all corners, you’re only experiencing a fraction of what it can do.
So-called “max-performance” summer tires are pretty hopeless when the thermometer heads south. That’s because tire manufacturers make each one of their products with a specific chemical cocktail designed to perform best in a specific temperature range.
Dedicated race rubber needs to be hot enough to burn your skin in order to perform properly, which is why you see racers weaving back and forth, “scrubbing” heat into their tires during safety-car laps. Summer performance tires tend to turn rock-hard and lose grip once the temperature drops below fifty degrees Fahrenheit or so.
For that reason, many drivers make the decision to compromise their car’s ultimate performance in the warmer months by fitting a set of no-season tires. They’re hoping that the relatively broad-temperature, moderate-grip rubber compounds they use will get them safely through winter. As a result, they struggle every time it snows—but they also then wonder why their Porsche seems strangely short on grip when the summer roads beckon.

Maruti YRA hatchback coming soon

Maruti is adding another model to its growing India-line up, this time, a premium hatchback which is expected to take on the likes of the new Hyundai i20 and upcoming Honda Jazz.
This new hatchback (Codename: YRA) is a global model and has been spotted testing in Europe as well earlier. This new set of spy photos show the car in its production guise and reveals more details on its rear styling.
The Maruti YRA, unlike the usual hatchbacks we’ve seen from Maruti, breaks the norm of the upright C-pillar look. Its rear slopes down and ends in a steeply raked windscreen. The YRA's side reveals pronounced haunches and a window line that rises towards the rear. One can easily make out the YRA will be much wider than the Swift and longer too. The overall look of the YRA is surely fresh for a Maruti but does look a bit unexciting.
Up front, the headlamps are placed at far corners and the wide grille is expected to get Suzuki’s honeycomb treatment. New here for Suzuki is the V-shape chrome-surround at the bottom. The front bumper gets conservative styling with a wide air-intake inlet, fog lamp inserts and vertical daytime-running lamps. What’s to note is that Maruti, for the first time in India, could provide standard daytime-running lamps.
The Maruti YRA is expected to be powered by a 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol and the 1.3-litre diesel motors. 

Porsche Cayenne facelift review, test drive

Porsche is the world’s premier sportscar maker. No one has a more successful model lineup. And for purity of purpose, the German marquee is really right up there. Yet, its most successful car isn’t the iconic 911, the one with the big flat-six engine hung out the back. It’s this one, the hulking Cayenne SUV. 
 
Now understandably, this comes as a bit of a surprise. But think about it for a minute and it’s clear. As against a sportscar that appeals to a relatively small group, a sporty SUV with a well-built interior and luxury trimmings appeals to almost everybody. And the badge helps too. “I drive a Porsche” does have a nice ring to it.
 
The real reason for the Cayenne’s blockbuster success, however, is that it walks the talk: it looks and drives like a pukka Porsche. This was true of the first-generation car in 2002 (the E1), and is true of the newer-generation E2 which, if anything, drives even better. Question is, is this facelifted and updated E2 II better still?  So what’s new here? The most obvious is the nose. What you notice right away are those 918-like four-point daytime running lights. The bonnet is now wider, the grille is flanked by two additional inlets with ‘airblades’ that shape the airflow into the inter-cooler and there are new flush-mounted tail lights at the rear too. Unlike the first generation, however, it is no longer possible to identify the engine variants just by looking at the grille. The difference lies in the tail pipes –the Cayenne S gets double-barrel round ones, whereas the turbo gets twin D-shaped ones; take a look.

Nissan GT-R unveiled

Nissan has launched the updated GT-R in Japan, with some mechanical and cosmetic tweaks.
On the mechanical front, the Nissan GT-R gets modified dampers and ECU to provide better stability on corners and improve steering feedback. The powertrain management systems and the flywheel housing bearings have been tweaked to reduce NVH levels. The brakes also get new parts to make them less noisy, and vibrations on idle have been reduced too.
The Nissan GT-R continues to be powered by a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that makes 538bhp and 64kgm of torque. The V6 is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddle shifters. Other changes come in the form of a modified trunk carpet to improve sound deadening, and modified run-flat Dunlop tyres that, according to the brand, will improve the GT-R's ride quality, and straight line and tough road stability.
Cosmetically, the GT-R gets new headlights with four LEDs each, and optional split-spoke RAYS alloys in a blue-black chrome finish. On the inside, it gets an optional package in either red or ivory, which includes new leather upholstery, hand-stitching on the front seats, accents on the instrument panel, steering wheel, door handles, armrests and gear knob.

New BMW M4 India review, test drive

The renowned M3 badge may be alive and kicking to refer to the ‘M’ version of the latest generation of BMW’s 3-series sedan but for all intents and purposes, it is this car – the new M4 – which is the real successor to the legendary BMW M3 CoupĂ©. As you’d imagine, it’s got a whole lot of expectations to live up to, especially in the performance and handling departments. To take care of the performance bit, there is a new twin-turbo, 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine under the M4’s curvaceous bonnet. Meanwhile, a revised suspension, revamped electronics and weight savings all around are there to ensure the new M4 takes corners like it should.
All the new tech comes hidden under a body that is easily identifiable as one belonging to an M car. Massive intakes on the front bumper, the blacked-out wheels and the quad exhausts at the rear make the M4 look the business. Oh, there’s a carbon-fibre roof too – there to minimise weight and to help keep the centre of gravity low.
It’s very business-like in the cabin as well. The cockpit, an all-black affair, feels sporty and is very much in keeping with the car’s character. Things to like include the low height of the dash (great for visibility) and how effectively the iDrive system has freed up the centre console of buttons. Of the few buttons of interest are the ones for the steering, engine and suspension settings that are neatly stacked alongside the stubby gear lever. And full marks to BMW for retaining the old M3’s clear analogue dials that light up progressively as you rev harder.
As expected, front seat comfort is really good with great support from the deep dish seats. But, also as  expected, access to the back seats through the doors isn’t convenient. Still, the rear seats offer adequate space and comfort for short journeys.

Mercedes Performance Car Sales May Double Through 2017

Daimler's Mercedes-AMG performance cars division aims to more than double vehicle sales over the next three years as it pushes expansion into compact cars, a senior executive said.
Deliveries at AMG swelled to 32,200 cars in 2013 on demand for souped-up versions of Mercedes regular models, including the introduction last year of the 49,980 euro ($62,335) A 45 AMG hatchback, its first compact. AMG sales may jump by more than a quarter to more than 40,000 vehicles this year alone, especially due to demand from the United States and China, division Chief Tobias Moers said on Thursday.
Mercedes Performance Car Sales May Double Through 2017
The world's third-largest luxury-car manufacturer has boosted auto sales to a new record this year, benefiting from a spate of redesigned models. The AMG unit's high-performance cars, including Mercedes's top-of-the-line GT model unveiled in September, cast a halo effect on the rest of the lineup, helping Mercedes compete with rivals BMW and Audi at the high end of the luxury market, analysts say.
AMG, whose CLA 45 baby saloon will hit dealerships early next year, plans to build nine high-performance versions of at least 11 Mercedes-badged new models through 2020, Moers said at an event near Stuttgart

Hyundai i20 vs Volkswagen Polo vs Fiat Punto Evo

Brake-horsepower, naught-to-hundred numbers, performance body-kit - are you the kind that indulges in such stuff? Are you that loony-head who spots a curving section on the road and decides to dial in more revs and attack it? If you are, then you'll like the fact that the three cars that we have gathered here are trying to march towards the 'hot-hatch' spectrum. You could argue that Volkswagen already has two cars that would fit the tag - Polo GT TSI and GT TDI, but that's for another day.
Between Vikas, Kritika and I, we've been driving each of these cars for over a month - swapping the keys, and keeping the odometer count ticking. Let me tell this to you right at the outset - we didn't share notes until the very last moment to maintain complete transparency towards our respective results and opinions. However, when we did, it was startling to note that the final outcome was pretty much the same.
Lest I amass hate-comments, let me clarify that looks of a product is a very subjective thing and you're entitled to your choices. For me though, the Punto just doesn't work somehow. It is the most noticeable of the three here - and that's not just because it wears yellow all over itself, but also because of its obnoxious front-end design and the forced chrome on its posterior.
The Punto EVO gets its drive from a 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engine that Fiat supplies to many other car makers. Surprisingly, Fiat's customer-companies do a better job of noise insulation. In the Punto EVO, this diesel unit makes a really loud racket. You may even say it sounds very raw. Now, I like raw in my mechanical companions; but it's not really a pleasant experience and you keep praying that the Gods of all-things-motoring would make this thing die instantly. And if that wasn't enough, the gearbox feels like its fed gluten and the shifts have a really artificial, rubbery feel to them. I'm not saying the shift quality isn't slippery enough - it is, but the experience lacks the feeling of it being a satisfying event in the process of driving.
The Punto EVO isn't really unadorned - it gets a lot of equipment, but it's still not as feature-rich as the i20 is, but that's not the point of this comparison - this is mainly about driving dynamics. The Punto EVO is the most powerful here and it shoots off the line fairly swiftly, but the suspension is absolutely absurd. I was pushing the car around the same sections of the road as I was the other two - the i20 and Polo - and the Punto EVO displayed extreme eagerness to hopping on the road. It felt as if the suspension was always too busy doing something-or-the-other; it never felt settled and composed. And that prevented the Punto EVO from being a committed and fun car. That made it oddly anxious. That's not a good Brake-horsepower, naught-to-hundred numbers, performance body-kit - are you the kind that indulges in such stuff? Are you that loony-head who spots a curving section on the road and decides to dial in more revs and attack it? If you are, then you'll like the fact that the three cars that we have gathered here are trying to march towards the 'hot-hatch' spectrum. You could argue that Volkswagen already has two cars that would fit the tag - Polo GT TSI and GT TDI, but that's for another day.
Between Vikas, Kritika and I, we've been driving each of these cars for over a month - swapping the keys, and keeping the odometer count ticking. Let me tell this to you right at the outset - we didn't share notes until the very last moment to maintain complete transparency towards our respective results and opinions. However, when we did, it was startling to note that the final outcome was pretty much the same.
Lest I amass hate-comments, let me clarify that looks of a product is a very subjective thing and you're entitled to your choices. For me though, the Punto just doesn't work somehow. It is the most noticeable of the three here - and that's not just because it wears yellow all over itself, but also because of its obnoxious front-end design and the forced chrome on its posterior.
The Punto EVO gets its drive from a 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engine that Fiat supplies to many other car makers. Surprisingly, Fiat's customer-companies do a better job of noise insulation. In the Punto EVO, this diesel unit makes a really loud racket. You may even say it sounds very raw. Now, I like raw in my mechanical companions; but it's not really a pleasant experience and you keep praying that the Gods of all-things-motoring would make this thing die instantly. And if that wasn't enough, the gearbox feels like its fed gluten and the shifts have a really artificial, rubbery feel to them. I'm not saying the shift quality isn't slippery enough - it is, but the experience lacks the feeling of it being a satisfying event in the process of driving.
The Punto EVO isn't really unadorned - it gets a lot of equipment, but it's still not as feature-rich as the i20 is, but that's not the point of this comparison - this is mainly about driving dynamics. The Punto EVO is the most powerful here and it shoots off the line fairly swiftly, but the suspension is absolutely absurd. I was pushing the car around the same sections of the road as I was the other two - the i20 and Polo - and the Punto EVO displayed extreme eagerness to hopping on the road. It felt as if the suspension was always too busy doing something-or-the-other; it never felt settled and composed. And that prevented the Punto EVO from being a committed and fun car. That made it oddly anxious. That's not a good thing. On the whole, I have to say, the Punto EVO has a rather good engine; but there's not much else to it.
When Hyundai introduced its refreshed i20, I was very surprised by it. Seemingly, the company had sorted most of the issues that crippled the previous model and the 'newer' i20 promises to be a much more composed and sorted driving experience. To be honest, it does come very close to all its claims - it really has become an extremely sorted product now.
One problem is that the seats are quite silly and don't hold you well when you're going rapidly around a bend. The other problem is the suspension - it's soft and though it is good at soaking in the bumps, it's really not well-suited for animated driving.
But Polo's biggest problem is the i20. In a car that costs about 8 lakh rupees, you can't ignore the manual controls for things that you expect to be electronically operated - electronically folding rear view mirrors for instance. There's not even an auto-dimming option for the inside rear view mirror - that's really pushing the boundaries. However, the Polo comes with airbags as standard across the variant list, and I think I can live with the other controls being manual if I get safety items like ABS and airbags. thing. On the whole, I have to say, the Punto EVO has a rather good engine; but there's not much else to it.
When Hyundai introduced its refreshed i20, I was very surprised by it. Seemingly, the company had sorted most of the issues that crippled the previous model and the 'newer' i20 promises to be a much more composed and sorted driving experience. To be honest, it does come very close to all its claims - it really has become an extremely sorted product now.
One problem is that the seats are quite silly and don't hold you well when you're going rapidly around a bend. The other problem is the suspension - it's soft and though it is good at soaking in the bumps, it's really not well-suited for animated driving.
But Polo's biggest problem is the i20. In a car that costs about 8 lakh rupees, you can't ignore the manual controls for things that you expect to be electronically operated - electronically folding rear view mirrors for instance. There's not even an auto-dimming option for the inside rear view mirror - that's really pushing the boundaries. However, the Polo comes with airbags as standard across the variant list, and I think I can live with the other controls being manual if I get safety items like ABS and airbags.

New Ford Figo & Figo-based Sedan in India For R&D Purpose

New Ford Figo & Figo-based Sedan in India For R&D Purpose
In a bid to increase its market share in the Indian market, Ford is planning to launch a bunch of new cars next year. Of all the cars that the company will launch, new-gen Ford Figo and the Figo-based sub-compact sedan will be the first two. In fact, the company has already brought both of these products to India for R&D purpose. Both the cars have already been launched in the Brazilian market as KA hatchback and KA+ compact sedan.
 
New- Gen Ford Figo:Expected to be launched in India by the second quarter of 2015, the new-gen Ford Figo is already on sale in the Brazilian market. The car shares a great resemblance to the concept model unveiled earlier this year, except for the changes made to the grille. While the concept had chrome plated horizontal slats, the production version has a honeycomb grille. The head-lights also receive different mirror element, though the overall design remains unchanged. The new Figo might continue with the existing engine options - 1.4-litre diesel and 1.2-litre petrol in India.
Expected Price: Rs. 4.50 lakh - Rs. 7 lakh

Ford Figo Sedan:
Unveiled as a concept, right ahead of the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, the Ford Figo's production version was launched in Brazil as KA+ sedan earlier this year. The Brazilian model measures over 4 metres in length, though the Indian-spec model will be a sub-4 metre one in order to avail excise duty benefits. The car is likely to be made available with a 1.0-litre petrol (possibly the 1.0-litre EcoBoost) and a 1.5-litre diesel engine options. Except for the length, both the Brazilian and India-bound versions appear similar.
Expected Price - Rs. 4.8 lakh - Rs. 8 lakh

Ford EcoSport Now On Sale in CSD and Central Police Canteens

Ford EcoSport Now On Sale in CSD and Central Police Canteens
Launched in the year 2013, Ford EcoSport sub-compact SUV has now been made available for sale in Canteen Stores Department (CSD) and Central Police Canteen across the country.Ford India already sells its Classic, Figo and Endeavour to serving personnel and ex-servicemen through these stores.

Ford will also provide exclusive benefits to servicemen including priority delivery subject to variant availability, along with standard benefits offered under CSD and CPC. Ever since its launch in the Indian market, Ford EcoSport has been the top-selling vehicle for the country. The company has already sold over 1 lakh units in domestic as well as export markets.

The EcoSport is available in two petrol engine options - 1.0-litre EcoBoost & 1.5-litre Ti-VCT, and one diesel engine - 1.5-litre TDCi.

Maruti Suzuki Ready To Change Safety Features

After Maruti Suzuki's popular hatchback Swift failed the recent Global NCAP crash test, the company today said it is ready to upgrade safety standards if asked to do so by the government. While interacting with reporters during the AutoShow Gujarat 2014 here at Mahatma Mandir, Executive Director of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, R S Kalsi said the company is following all safety norms set by the government at present.
"The crash test was carried out as per the international standards, while we follow safety norms laid out in India. We are meeting all the requirements related to car safety in India. However, we are also willing to change if government asks us to do so," said Kalsi.
Earlier this month, two Indian hatchback cars, Maruti Swift and Datsun Go, failed the crash test conducted by Global NCAP. IAS officer and CEO of National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) Nitin R Gokarn defended the safety standards in Indian cars.
"Those tests were carried out at a speed of 64 kmph. While here, we carry out test at 56 kmph, and all the Indian cars are designed to meet safety norms as per that speed limit. Thus, such cars may not give similar results when crashed at higher speeds," said Gokarn, who was also present at the interaction.
On his view about the auto industry outlook, Kalsi said that industry is waiting for "goods days ahead."

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Best new car deals for Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend

The airwaves are abuzz with door-busting Black Friday deals on the latest gizmos, gadgets, and other things you can simply live without. But there is a product most people need and depend on that can be found at great prices this shopping season: a new car.
Scouring through thousands of current incentives, we found several standout deals that promise thousands off the window sticker. The deals this time around are not as aggressive as we have seen on past holiday weekends, but if you’re looking to save on a new car, this can be a good time to act. And unlike that wall-sized television you're contemplating standing in line overnight for, these offers extend until at least December.  
The new-car model year typically transitions in the fall, leading to some overlap with the outgoing year. This time, inventories on 2014 models is light, causing us to focus strictly on 2015 models. If you find a 2014, think through whether it is the right solution for you. Of course, it will have depreciated a full year’s worth and may not have the latest technology. 
There are abundant savings available for full-sized pickup truck buyers across brands, with some heavy-duty variants showing up to $4,700 off. Surprisingly, even the new 2015 Ford F-150 has $2,000 or more in total available savings. Plus, there are numerous other cars with notable potential savings—including the Dodge Journey, Ford Escape, Fiat 500, Kia Sorento, and Nissan Altima—that just don’t meet our requirements to be recommended.
The cars listed below are all 2015 models. With a nod to the early winter hitting the nation, most selections highlighted are all-wheel-drive, but there are discounts available on other variations. The vehicles listed below are national deals, but extra regional discounts are also available on other models with an additional savings. In addition, there are bonus incentives for returning customers and military personnel available on many models, providing even further discounts.
The models highlighted are just a few of our best new car deals, meaning there are notable discounts on models that meet Consumer Reports criteria to be recommended. These vehicles scored well in our testing, had average or better reliability in our subscriber survey, and performed at least adequately, if included, in government or insurance-industry safety tests.

5 cool - but expensive - gifts for car lovers

When it comes to gifts for car lovers, the cost spectrum is nearly infinite. But for those with more refined tastes, the practical and frugal gifts will not do. Here are some cars and car-related items that play in rareified air and will be sure to appease those with more demanding tastes.
BMW M235i:You may have your boulevard cruising S-Class and grocery-getter Macan, but what about a true weekend toy that you can daily drive as well? The M235i is one of those great purist cars that prove BMW still remembers how to make the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” Of course, you'll want to get the loud red interior that we had on our test car. Expect to pay between $32,100-$44,900 for a car that is fun, yet has minimal interior space. One cool feature is the M225i is available in rear- and all-wheel-drive versions. Unfortunately, only the RWD car gets a manual transmission.
Pirelli P Zero Tires:
What if you already have the car of your dreams, but think it could handle just a little bit better? The right set of performance tires will go miles toward that goal. The Pirelli P Zero is tied for our highest rated ultra-high-performance summer tire. It has impressive grip and braking in wet and dry conditions. 
Mercedes-Benz S-Class:Do you need perfume as an optional feature in your car? Of course you don’t (we know you already smell fabulous), but such features stand to define the new state of the ultra-luxury-car market. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the German automaker’s flagship sedan and is the standard-bearer for opulent livery vehicles for the ultra rich. The turbocharged V8 pumps out 449 horses of raging power, effortlessly slinging the S-Class along. Need more power? Choose the bigger V8 and V12 turbos, producing up to 621 hp in S65 AMG guise. While handling is pretty rewarding and engaging for a big car, the best seat in the house is in the back. It means you get reclining seats, abundant room, and a driver who can fiddle with the confounding Command system. Pricing ranges from $94,400 to $166,900.
Porsche Macan:
Perhaps you’re the proud owner of a Porsche 911, but have finally come to the realization that your family doesn’t like cramming into the nonexistent back seat. The Porsche Macan drives every bit like a sports car, yet is also has seating for five and the space for all their gear. It's the ultimate combination of performance and practicality. With all-wheel drive, it will handle whatever winter can throw at you as well. Just make sure you have the all-season tires. 
Clek Foonf:
If you think $450 buys you the best possible child car seat on the market, think again. Despite being the most expensive car seat we’ve ever tested, the Clek Foonf is one of the lowest in ratings among convertible models. It’s heavy, lacks ease-of-use features we see on lower-priced models, and is tough to install in rear facing configuration. It does have some benefits, though. The rear-facing limit is 43 inches or 50 pounds, one of the highest capacities available. Magnets are sewn into the sides of the fabric to prevent the straps from getting in the way. When you're ready to dispose of the seat, you can send it to Clek for $20, and in exchange it'll give you a coupon to its online store for the same amount

2015 Ford F-150 fuel economy tops competition

When Ford revealed the 2015 F-150 with its all-aluminum body, the big question was, would the lighter truck really save much gas? Now the company has announced final EPA fuel economy estimates and says that with the new downsized turbocharged 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6 engine, the redesigned F-150 gets the best fuel economy of any gasoline-powered full-sized pickup: 22 mpg overall, 19 mpg city, and 26 highway.
Of course, Ford is quoting the maximum fuel economy for the truck: a standard-cab two-wheel drive model. And Ford isn’t the only truckmaker working to improve fuel economy.
Chrysler has taken a different tack with its Ram by offering the segment’s only diesel engine, which gets 23 mpg on the EPA combined cycle. (Consumer Reports got 20 mpg out of a four-wheel-drive Ram Quad Cab diesel—a substantially bigger, heavier truck.) But diesel fuel costs more than regular gas.
2.7-liter EcoBoost V6
General Motors is taking a different approach with its new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon: downsizing the whole truck. GM spokesman Stephen Martin told me that the company’s research indicates that among pickup owners who tow, the vast majority only ever tow up to 4,000 pounds—so they don’t need the capability of a larger truck.
The smaller pickups, with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, tie the 2.7-liter EcoBoost F-150 in combined fuel economy ratings, but they can only tow up to 3,500 pounds. The F-150 is rated to tow 8,500 pounds. With its optional V6 engine, the smaller Colorado can tow 7,000 pounds, and it is EPA-rated at 21 mpg.

How to prep your car for a holiday road trip


Do these simple maintenance checks for safe and stress-free travel ...
With the holidays right around the corner, now is the time to get the family sleigh ready for travel and gift-delivery duty. By taking care of simple maintenance checks now, you can help ensure stress-free driving all winter long.
  • Start with holiday lights. Take a walk around your car to make sure all the lights are working properly, including high and low beams, flashers, directional signals, brake lights, and the license plate light.
  • Wipe away troubles. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your wiper blades, now would be a good time to do it. Our tests have found that even the best-performing blades can be ready for retirement in as little as six months. Cracks, tears, streaking, and missed spots are all sure signs. Many auto parts stores will do the installation for free while you wait.
  • Don’t forget washer fluid. One long road trip on slushy, salt-covered roads can require a lot of washer fluid to keep the windshield clear, and a dark and stormy night is not the time to run out. Keep a gallon in the trunk, just in case. If it gets really cold where you’ll be traveling, switch to washer fluid with an antifreeze agent.
  • Keep the engine cool in the cold. Extreme cold is tough on mechanical components. Check the radiator and heater hoses for cracks and leaks. Hoses should be firm yet pliable when squeezed. Generally, the antifreeze mix should be flushed at least every two years to prevent corrosion buildup. If your vehicle is almost due, take care of it now.
  • Check the battery. At 0° F, your battery has only half of the cranking power it has at 80 degrees. And all batteries lose strength as they age, so don’t take any chances. Many auto-parts stores or repair shops will check yours for free. If it needs replacing, check our car battery Ratings and buying advice.
  • Keep up the pressure. Underinflated tires cause unsafe handling and braking. Keep a tire gauge in the glove compartment, and check the pressure in all your tires once a month and before any trip. Check your owner’s manual or driver’s doorjamb for the correct pressure.
  • Consider winter tires. If you’re likely to encounter a snow storm in your travels, think about investing in a set of high-rated all-season tires or better yet, four winter tires. Their tread patterns and rubber compounds are designed to grip on snow and ice. Check out our full tire Ratings and buying advice.

Most recalls are fairly routine, so don't panic

Most recalls are fairly routine, so don.t panic...
Recall. When you hear that ominous word in the news, it portends dire consequences. But are recalls urgencies or emergencies? What’s the best way to stay informed? How long should you wait before calling your dealership? Here’s what you need to know.
One big recall involves 7.8 million vehicles and counting—from BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota, and other automakers—in which air bags made by the Japanese supplier Takata are prone to explode in collisions, spraying passengers with shrapnel, sometimes with fatal results. Last year GM also recalled 2.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches that could cause the car to turn off while being driven. In 2009 and 2010 Toyota recalled more than 10 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles for problems that led to unintended acceleration. In 2014, through autumn, automakers announced more than 500 recalls affecting more than 50 million vehicles.
But many recalls are for less than perilous reasons. Sometimes they’re for something as benign as a mislabeled sticker. Or durability tests find a suspension spring could wear out prematurely.
Even when a recall is issued, often there’s little likelihood that a part will actually fail. Indeed, a vast majority of affected cars will never experience the potential problems outlined in a recall notice. But automakers are taking fewer chances these days, given a more aggressive regulatory environment and plaintiff lawyers having more success in defect litigation. And no manufacturer wants to risk the same fate as Toyota, which paid a $1.2 billion settlement to the Department of Justice for dragging its feet during its unintended-acceleration recall process.

What to do if you lock your keys in the car

The odds are you’ll lock your keys in the car sometime, and those odds are on the increase. The American Automobile Association reports that it gets calls from more than 4,000,000 locked-out motorists every year. That’s up from 500,000 or less just a few years ago. The culprit, according to AAA, are keyless ignition and increasingly sophisticated electronic anti-theft systems.  
With the harried holiday shopping season upon us, you might be even more likely to lock yourself out. Here’s what you can do to stay calm and get help on the way.
Call for road assistance:Here’s when those annual auto-club fees really pay off. AAA, Allstate, and other organizations that provide roadside service can quickly get you inside, though it could take a while for them to reach you. If you don’t subscribe to such a service, you might still be in luck. Most new cars come with roadside assistance during the basic warranty period. Your owner’s manual should have the details, but of course that’s locked in the car with the keys. The number to call might be posted on a window decal. If it isn’t, you can get the details by calling a dealership. To be prepared, you should store the number in your phone or write it down on paper and keep it in your wallet or purse. What if you don’t have a new car or you don’t belong to a service such as AAA? Ask about adding roadside assistance to your auto-insurance policy. Also, some major highways are patrolled by trucks offering emergency aid. Keep an eye out for one.
Call a tow truck:If you have no free options, most towing services provide lock-out service. Call 411 for services in your area. Or text the words “tow service” and your location to GOOGL (46645). Normal text rates apply. 
Get a temporary key:A dealer might be able to make you an inexpensive key that will open the doors (but not start your car) so that you can retrieve your permanent keys. You’ll probably need your vehicle identification number (visible through the lower edge of the driver’s-side windshield) and to prove that you own the car. Of course, you’ll also need a ride to the dealership.
Keep an extra key handy:Stash a spare key in your purse, your wallet, or a well-hidden spot on the car. You can buy a small magnetic box that can hold a key and be placed on a car’s underside. Or leave a spare with someone who could rescue you.
Buy a car with benefits:Some cars won’t lock with the power-lock button if the key is in the ignition and a door is open. Also, many vehicles from Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury have a door-mounted keypad that lets you tap in a code to unlock the door. If you drive a vehicle with a telematics system such as GM’s OnStar, Hyundai’s Blue Link, or Mercedes-Benz’s Mbrace, you can call a toll-free number to have your car remotely unlocked. Those systems also offer free apps that let smart-phone owners unlock the doors. Check automaker websites for compatible phones and specifics.
Keyless:If you have lost the key, things get more complicated. You’re going to need a locksmith. Expect to pay $200 and up for a replacement key. Keys for some higher-end models can cost several hundred dollars and you can buy them only through a dealer, who will need to program the remote for you. And that means an expensive trip to the dealer on a flatbed. (Check out this cool tip for your keyless remote. It'll come in handy on a hot day.

2014 Mazda 3 v old Mazda 3

Swap out of the old Mazda 3 and into the new Mazda 3 and it feels as though the fast-forward button has been pressed through not one, but two generations.
2014 Mazda 3 v old Mazda 3: Comparison Review
The new Mazda 3 sedan and hatch range are identical length to the five-year-old models they replace, but the wheelbase extends by 60mm and overhangs are reduced by 35mm front/25mm rear on both bodystyles. Body width is up 40mm, while clever packaging means front shoulder room extends by a full 57mm – or about a third of the typical centre console width. Rear shoulder room is up 9mm, too, though second-row legroom actually falls by 10mm.
The larger interior reflects the newfound maturity of this Mazda 3. There’s more soft-touch dashboard plastics, although enough hard ones remain for its rival Volkswagen Golf to retain its benchmark interior quality status quo. Beautiful touches abound, though, including the central tachometer and electronic speedometer nestled inside it, all encased in silver-finished binnacle.
On the long, speed bowl at the proving ground the old Mazda 3 steering required only a tiny input to get the car to turn in, but the weighting was so light that delicate movements of the hands are needed. The new steering system is far more progressive on-centre, requiring more lock on turn-in, but also being more meaty and consistent once the front wheels bite.
The steering in the new Mazda 3 is quicker overall, though, so despite more initial input being required on turn in, it also takes less time to reach full left or right lock. That can be appreciated on the handling track’s couple of hairpins, where the driver doesn’t need to have their arms crossed-up.
Not only did the old Mazda 3 turn in quickly, but it also felt light on its feet, and was keen to quickly roll onto its outside rear tyres and oversteer after a mid-corner throttle lift. Some of that friskiness has been dialled out of the new Mazda 3 – in the same way it has between the most recent Mazda 6 generations – but although it now feels more planted and secure – thank the extended wheelbase – it’s also beautifully balanced and, more importantly, still fun. Cornering limits are higher with the new Mazda 3, and the car responds less aggressively once they are reached. The stability control calibration remains excellent.